Awesome Egyptians by Martin Brown
Detail from a cartoon in 'The Awesome Egyptians'. 1993. 

Martin Brown is an Australian cartoonist and illustrator, who lives and works in the UK. He is the main illustrator for the 'Horrible Histories' book series by Terry Deary, which is published by Scholastic, and ran from 1993 to 2013. The series contains trivia and fun facts about history for children, but with a humorous and sarcastic focus on the gruesome details "that schools keep silent about". The books are illustrated with cartoons and comic segments. Its popularity has been such that they inspired a magazine, audio books, stage productions, video games, board games, exhibitions and no less than five TV series. They have been translated in Czech, Polish, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese and Persian. Similar spin-off book series presenting math, science, geography, sports and bible stories in an entertaining way have been introduced as well.

Barmy British by Martin Brown
'The Barmy British Empire'. 2002.

Early life and career
Brown was born in 1959 and raised in Melbourne. Among his graphic influences are Jeff MacNelly, Charles M. Schulz, Johnny Hart, Jeff Hook, Michael Leunig, Ron Cobb, Bruce Petty, Pat Oliphant, Bernard Kliban, Gary Larson, Jerry van Amerongen, Bill Watterson and Murray Ball. After working in a TV studio for a couple of years, he ended up in Britain while backpacking around the world. He stayed, and has since worked as an illustrator for cartoons, magazines, books and greeting cards. His first paid work appeared in free magazines offered to people using the London subways. He began his association with Scholastic through illustrating 'Coping With Parents' (1989) by Peter Corey.

England by Martin Brown
'England', 2006. The men in the first panel are admirals Horatio Nelson and Thomas Hardy.

Horrible Histories
In 1993 Terry Deary started his 'Horrible Histories' book series, published by Scholastic. Martin Brown was involved as the first illustrator and would remain the most regular contributor. Deary is notorious for his criticism of the education system and wanted his books to be informative and entertaining rather than strictly one of these two options. Each book is devoted to a specific historical era. Everything is written in a witty, sarcastic and subversive style, where teachers and other authority figures are usually the recurring targets. Many chapters focus on sensational and gruesome events. To make the text more accessible illustrations, one-panel cartoons and comics are used. Brown livened up the pages of 'The Terrible Tudors' (co-written by Deary and Peter Hepplewhite, 1993), 'The Awesome Egyptians' (co-written by Deary and Hepplewhite, 1993),'The Vicious Vikings' (1994), 'The Vile Victorians' (1994), 'The Groovy Greeks' (1996), 'The Measly Middle Ages' (1996), 'The Slimy Stuarts' (1996), 'The Angry Aztecs' (1997), 'The Cut-Throat Celts' (1997), 'The Terrifying Tudors' (1998), 'The Gorgeous Georgians' (1998), 'The Frightful First World War' (1998), 'The Woeful Second World War' (1999),  'The Savage Stone Age' (1999), 'The Rotten Romans' (1999),  'The Smashing Saxons' (2000), 'The Stormin' Normans' (2001), 'The Barmy British Empire' (2002), 'The Ruthless Romans' (2003), 'The Villainous Victorians' (2004) and 'The Awful Egyptians' (2006). He also illustrated the specials 'Scotland' (1998), 'Ireland' (2000), 'USA' (2001), 'France' (2002), 'England' (2004), 'Stratford-Upon-Avon (2006), 'Oxford' (2007), 'Wales' (2008) and compilation books, diaries, Christmas books, pop-up books, post card books, quiz books and joke books. Other illustrators for the series were Mike Philips, Philip Reeve and Kate Sheppard.

'Horrible Histories' quickly became a cultural phenomenon in the United Kingdom. It was adapted into stage plays (1999-2015), exhibitions (since 2000),  an animated TV series (2001-2002), two live-action sketch comedy TV series (since 2009 and another since 2015), a TV game show ('Gory Games', since 2011), two magazines (launched in 2003, another in 2012), audio plays (2003-2004), a board game (2008, with involvement from Martin Brown and Dave Smith), a video game (2009), an online platform (since 2009), a few toys and two films ('Bill', 2015, and 'Horrible Histories: The Movie - Rotten Romans', 2019). The 'Horrible Histories' books have been translated into Czech (' Děsivé dějiny'), Danish ('Vanvittig Viten'), Dutch ('Waanzinnig Om Te Weten'), Norwegian ('Faele Fakta'), Polish ('Strrraszna historia'), Portuguese ('Os Horrívies' in Portugal, 'Saber Horrível', in Brazil), Spanish ('Esa Horrible Historia'), Swedish ('Förfärliga Fakta') and Thai. 

'Horrible Histories' also inspired spin-off series, such as 'America's Funny But True History' (written by Elizabeth Levy, illustrated by Daniel Mcfeeley), 'Boring Bible' (written and illustrated by Andy Robb), 'Fair Dinkum Histories' (written by Jackie French, illustrated by Peter Sheehan), 'Horrible Geography' (written by Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Ian Baker, Rob Davis, Mike Philips and Daniel Postgate), 'Horrible Science' (written by Nick Arnold and Phil Gates and illustrated by Tony De Saulles),'Totally' (written by Kjartan Poskitt, illustrated by Philip Reeve) and 'Truly Terrible Tales' (written by Terry Deary, illustrated by Scoular Anderson).

Lesser Spotted Animals
In 2016 Brown published his  first book completely written and illustrated by himself : 'Lesser Spotted Animals'. It focuses on animals which are lesser known among the general public and therefore need more attention to make people aware they're threatened with extinction.

Angry Aztecs by Martin Brown
'Angry Aztecs'. 1997. 

Series and books by Martin Brown in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

X

If you want to help us continue and improve our ever- expanding database, we would appreciate your donation through Paypal.